There are just seven days left until Scotland’s only silent film festival returns to Bo’ness Racecourse.
On Wednesday 16 March, the oldest purpose-built cinema in Scotland will host the opening of the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2022.
The star-studded schedule is packed with films featuring some of the biggest names in the silent era – Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy, Lon Chaney, Joan Crawford, and more.
With so much to see and enjoy over the five days of the festival, it would be easy to overlook some of the events and screenings taking place.
Here are five events at HippFest 2022 you don’t want to miss:
The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923), 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 16.
Step away from Saoirse… it’s time to make way for the Silent Age’s answer to the most famous and romantic figure in Scottish history: Mary Stuart.
As part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, the Hippodrome Silent Film Festival is proud to present the world premiere of a new restoration of The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots; with live musical accompaniment from Wendy Weatherby (cello, vocals), Frank McLaughlin (guitar, pipes) and David Trouton (piano); and acclaimed storyteller Andy Cannon providing historical context during reel changes as the “movie explainer.”
This ambitious costume drama will be a lively opening of this year’s Festival.
Journey to the Isles: Marjory Kennedy-Fraser, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 17
A fascinating insight into the landscapes, folk tales and songs that inspired one of Scotland’s first great collectors of traditional art.
Commissioned by HippFest for the Year of Scotland’s Stories 2022; your journey to the islands will be led by the famous and charismatic live performer Marion Kenny – one of Scotland’s leading storytellers; and award-winning musician, singer and songwriter: Mairi Campbell. Weaving together words, music and songs alongside the enchanting films of Kennedy-Fraser, Marion and Mairi will evoke the sounds and sights captured by this key figure in Scottish Celtic revivalism.
Gender Rebels (double poster), 11 a.m., Friday, March 19
Since the 2016 presidential debate, #NastyWomen has become a global feminist rallying cry. Yet there is a long and robust history of women celebrating their own wickedness to speak truth to patriarchal power. Meet the Nasty Women of HippFest in this new program, co-hosted by Maggie Hennefeld and Laura Horak.
This fun double bill features two films about genre twists in the Wild West. The women wearing the pants… and the matching cowboy boots. Actor-producer Texas Guinan is a self-sufficient rancher who reluctantly decides to seek help from her husband in The Night Rider (1920); and comedy actress Fay Tincher is “rowdy” by name and “rowdy” by nature in Rowdy Ann (1919).
Not For Sale (1924), 3 p.m., Saturday, March 19
British screenwriter Lydia Hayward could make comedy gold out of any story and wrote dozens of screenplays in the 1920s. She was hailed in the film press as “the best screenwriter we have”, but her fine reputation languishes in oblivion along with the films she has worked on.
HippFest hopes to change that with an afternoon devoted to the work of the screenwriter, showing off her quick wit and expert ear for the vernacular of comics in this delightful romantic comedy.
If you’re a fan of British cinema and want to hear about one of our best screenwriters from the silent era, this one’s for you.
The Unknown (1927), 6:30 p.m., Sunday, March 20
Tod Browning’s jaw-dropping macabre drama starring box office sensation Lon Chaney and up-and-coming superstar Joan Crawford.
Chaney demonstrates his unparalleled talent for gruesome physical transformation on screen with his performance as the armless Alonzo – a knife thrower in a traveling circus, madly in love with glamorous assistant Nanon. A love triangle like no other and probably one of the most bizarre and dramatically grotesque films you will ever see.
Guaranteed to send shivers down your spine, this penultimate screening of HippFest 2022 is not to be missed.
Alison Strauss, Festival Director (Falkirk Community Trust) said: “We are delighted to be back in person for our 12th edition and look forward to welcoming audiences and artists to the Hippodrome. We’re putting all the finishing touches in place – sprucing up the red carpet, shaking the mothballs out of our glamorous gala outfits, and dressing up the town for the festivities. It’s been a long time, but we can finally go to HippFest.
Andy Cannon, performer and storyteller of The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots, said: “It is a great pleasure for us to finally be able to perform at the premiere of the newly restored The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary has achieved legendary status in Scottish history, and we are delighted to bring some of her story to life on screen and on stage for the opening of this year’s HippFest. audiences will enjoy this wonderful version of Mary’s story as much as we do telling it.
Journey to the Isles performer and storyteller Marion Kenny said: “I’m excited and delighted to be performing at Hippfest this year alongside singer Mairi Campbell. I can’t wait to be inside the fabulous Bo’ness Racecourse to experience this unique festival celebrating many treasures from Scotland’s Silent Screen archives.
Audiences can expect to be transported with a magical blend of silver screen, storytelling and musical soundscapes, back in time to the islands of the Outer Hebrides that held song collector Marjory Kennedy-Fraser under their spell, allowing us a rare glimpse into a long-lost life path.
The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival 2022 will take place at the Hippodrome Cinema in Bo’ness, from Wednesday 16 to Sunday 20 March. For more information on the program and tickets, visit www.hippfest.co.uk.
The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival is organized by Falkirk Community Trust with key funding from Falkirk Council, supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.
This event was supported by the Year of Stories 2022 Community Stories Fund. This fund is distributed in partnership between VisitScotland and Museums Galleries Scotland with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund through National Lottery players.
The Hippodrome Silent Film Festival (aka ‘HippFest’) was launched in 2011 and has since become a key annual event on the cultural calendar, attracting audiences from across Scotland and beyond, and generating considerable interest in the international scale.